Friedman still sounds optimistic that Longo will return at some point. But, for the first time, he admits it is possible that Longoria won’t. And even if Longoria returns this season, he won’t be 100% until the off-season.
Here is the key passage (emphasis is ours, although Friedman did stress the “if/when” parts). You can listen to the entire interview at 620WDAE.com…
“It is something that we don’t have a great answer to what’s going on. It’s not a bone that you can take an x-ray of and know we are x-amount of weeks out. It’s such a feel thing. And we’re getting to the point where we are going to start increasing activity and seeing how it goes. But even if/when he goes on a rehab assignment. Even if/when he comes back. And whether we are fortunate enough to do it earlier in the DH role. Or whether it takes a little bit longer to come back and play third. It is something that we are never going to feel incredibly confident about, I don’t think, until the end of the year. He’s going to play through some pain. And so, I think it is something that is going to take until the off-season to really address.”
Recently, I projected that Longoria might not be back until September, and some thought that was overly pessimistic, and others thought I was being overly optimistic. I still think there is a good chance we will see Longo at DH, as Friedman mentioned, in September, as long as the Rays are still in the Wild Card hunt.
But if the Rays fall 6-7 games back, look for the team to shut the star third baseman down. Remember, this year’s pennant race is different from last year. Even if the lead is less, there will be more teams to contend with, and not all of them are going to have bad Septembers.